Heart of Midlothian B
Match Report - By Eoin McNicol
Brechin City progressed to the 2nd Round of the SPFL Trust Trophy on penalties despite the 10-men Jambos overturning a 2 goal deficit in the second half.
Two spectacular backheel flicks in the first half from Fraser MacLeod and Grady McGrath looked to have the game wrapped up at half time as the young Hearts B were reduced to 10 men. However an impressive second half comeback saw the youthful Jambos level the score and take the game to penalties. In the shootout, Brechin came out on top thanks to Jamie McCabe's heroics alongside 5 well placed spot kicks.
Hearts started the game the more comfortable team with the ball, but it was a pretty even contest in the opening 20 minutes as both defences dealt comfortably with attacks.
21 minutes in, Brechin opened the scoring when Ewan Loudon whipped in a corner to the front post. The set piece was met by FRASER MACLEOD who reacted first with a stunning backheel flick, catching everyone else off guard as he nestled the ball into the far corner to give City the lead.
McGrath tried to get in on the act too midway through the first half - the striker drilled one in from distance, but his low effort was straight at the keeper. Just a minute later, McGrath used his strength to push off Callum Flatman and get a shot away but was off balance as his shot went wide.
Just over the half hour mark, Ewan Loudon did extremely well down the right as he used his strength and pace to burst past his man on the line. Luke Rathie then kicked out at Loudon in frustration to stop the attack which was met by furious protestations from City players in Loudon’s defence. Rathie was then shown red by referee George Calder as the young Jambos were reduced to 10 men.
In the 34th minute, City made the most of the extra man instantaneously as they doubled their advantage through GRADY MCGRATH who produced an almost carbon copy of the first goal when he beautifully flicked in a backheeled effort at the front post after getting on the end of MacLeod’s cross.
Minutes before the break, McGrath looked to have his second of the day as he cut in onto his left and fired at goal which looked to be creeping in the bottom corner, but a deflection diverted it just wide. A late free kick from the left wing in stoppage time saw Loudon pick out McHattie on the edge of the box, who sliced his first time shot wide of the goal.
Hearts B came out flying in the second half, with Andy Kirk's son Makenzie lashing one at goal and forcing a strong save from youngster Jamie McCabe who did well to turn the shot away for a corner. The resulting Jambos corner again met Kirk in the box, who this time rifled an effort off the crossbar.
The frantic start to the second half continued up the other end of the pitch a minute later when Seth Patrick's low effort was met by the outstretched hand of Liam MacFarlane to tip the ball away from goal. Moments later, Mudie would have the chance to increase the advantage when the ball was played across the face of goal, but the right back could only find the side netting from the tight angle.
It was like a tennis match with Makenzie Kirk causing City all sorts of problems as he fired another at McCabe from within the box. The peppering of McCabe’s goal continued when the rebound of Kirk’s shot fell to Callum Sandilands, whose attempt was cleared off the line by Euan Spark.
Just after the hour mark, Bobby McLuckie picked up the ball at back post before creating a shooting opportunity for himself through the legs of Patrick, but McCabe was able to hold. The ding-dong battle continued as Brechin ran up the pitch and would have been 3 goals to the good if it wasn’t for the keeper. Substitute Stuart Heenan smashed a powerful effort from close range, but McFarlane was equal to it as he showed quick reactions to produce a strong save with his right arm.
With 15 left to play, Hearts were given a lifeline as the referee pointed to the spot. Kirk did well to get in behind before rounding McCabe, but Spark managed to slide in and make the block to stop Kirk tapping into an empty net which was deemed as a foul. MAKENZIE KIRK would be the man to take the spot kick as he tucked his well placed penalty into the bottom left corner.
The young Jambos hunted for the equaliser and again tested McCabe in the 77th minute when the keeper was forced into another good save when he shut down Bobby McLuckie down the right. Hearts threated again from the opposite flank moments later when Kirk's shot was blocked by the leg of Chris Mudie.
On 78 minutes, Hearts B got the equaliser they had pushed for through an absolute rocket of a goal from ROCCO FRIEL. The right back smashed his effort from wide right as he guided it perfectly into the top corner, leaving McCabe no chance.
With only 5 minutes left on the clock, Stuart Heenan squandered an opportunity to put City back ahead when he skied his close range effort after nice build up play between McGrath and MacLeod who had worked the ball into the box.
Efforts from Heenan and McGrath from distance in stoppage time were not enough to grab a winner in 90 minutes as they curled them beyond the post, which meant the match went straight to penalties.
The only person to miss in the shootout was Hearts B’s Callum Sandilands - his penalty was placed at the perfect height for McCabe to keep out. However, the referee ordered a retake and Sandilands put his penalty right again, but McCabe was there to tip round the post for the second time. Stuart Heenan was the man to tuck away the winning spot kick after Loudon, McGrath, MacLeod and McArthur’s penalties all found the back of the net.
Last nights penalty win means City will play the winner of Formartine United or Hibernian B at Glebe Park in the second round of the SPFL Trust Trophy. However, the focus now turns back to Highland League action with a trip to Christie Park to face Huntly up next.